GRIGORAKI L, A PUGGIOLI, K MAVRIDIS, V DOURIS, M MONTANARI, R BELLINI & J VONTAS
Scientific Reports 7: 11699, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-12103-1
Culex pipiens mosquitoes cause severe nuisance and transmit human diseases including West Nile.
Vector control by insecticides is the main tool to prevent these diseases and diflubenzuron is one of the most effective mosquito larvicides used in many places. Here, high levels of resistance were identified in Cx. pipiens from Italy, with a Resistance Ratio of 128 fold. The phenotype was associated with mutations at amino acid I1043 (I1043M and I1043L) of the Chitin synthase gene, which showed significantly higher frequency in bioassay survivors. Both mutations have been introduced in the Drosophila melanogaster chitin synthase gene using the genome editing method CRISPR/Cas9 and validated to confer significant levels of resistance, although at different levels. The I→M mutation results in a Resistance Ratio >2,900 fold and the I→L mutation >20 fold. Two PCR based diagnostics were developed for monitoring of the resistant mutations in field populations. The findings are of major concern for public health given the importance of diflubenzuron in mosquito control in many places, the intensity of the resistance phenotype and the limited availability of alternative larvicides.